Wait, is Weed Legal?
Cannabis has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. But since the 1970s, production, sale, and consumption have been banned under United States federal law. Nonetheless, cannabis products can now be found in stores across the country. So, what changed? Is THC legal again?
The answer lies in two key compounds found in the cannabis plant: CBD and THC. These two substances have very cannabis plants. But while THC is renowned for its different effects on the human body, and as a result, their legal status has diverged significantly. Here’s a closer look at CBD and THC, how they differ, and their current legal status in the United States.
Cannabis and THC
THC stands for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, and is the most commonly associated compound with the cannabis “high.” It is this molecule that causes most of the psychoactive effects. THC is most concentrated in the buds of the marijuana plant; many plants these days even have observable crystals, known as trichomes, sticking to the buds. These trichomes are a good indicator of a bud’s THC content.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, and is the second most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects. In fact, it actually seems to counteract some of the effects of THC. CBD is most concentrated in hemp plants, which contain little to no THC. Because they don’t contain THC, the plants can also be collected and concentrated to provide the many products you can see on the shelves in stores today.
For a long time, any product containing these chemicals was outright illegal. Cannabis as a whole is still a Schedule 1 drug, despite 50 years of legislation pushing against that.
What are all these stores then?
CBD and THC products are now available in many forms, including oils, edibles, tinctures, and topicals. CBD and THC products are legal in many states, but the legal landscape is constantly changing.
The Farm Bill of 2018 made it legal to grow hemp plants with a THC content of less than 0.3%. This has led to a boom in the CBD market, as hemp-derived CBD products can now be legally sold in all 50 states. However, the THC content of CBD products is still regulated by state laws. In many states, only products with a THC content of 0.3% or less are legal. This means that cannabis products with higher THC levels are still illegal in those states.
The next step
However, because of the Farm Bill’s emphasis on restricting high-THC plants, manufacturers have recently been able to concentrate low-THC hemp plants into Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products with surprisingly “effective” results. These products are now available in many forms, including edibles and tinctures. Even though they are derived from hemp plants with a legal THC content, they still contain enough THC to produce the “high” associated with cannabis use.
CBD and THC products offer many potential health benefits. CBD has been shown to help relieve anxiety, pain, and inflammation. THC has been shown to help relieve pain and nausea.
Summing it up
CBD is non-psychoactive and does not produce the “high” associated with THC. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that produces the “high.” The Farm Bill of 2018 made it legal to grow hemp plants with a THC content of less than 0.3%. This led to a boom in the CBD market, as hemp-derived CBD products could be legally sold in all 50 states, instead of just California, Colorado, et al. New developments in THC-9 synthesis make it possible to create products with a legal THC content that are still potent enough to produce the “high” associated with cannabis use.